Sending ships to war zone voted 12–11 by committee (10-25-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 25, 1941)

Sending ships to war zone voted 12–11 by committee

Washington, Oct. 25 (UP) –
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 12–11 today to amend the House-approved ship-arming bill to remove all Neutrality Act restrictions against movement of U.S. ships into belligerent ports and combat zones.

The committee, on the motion of Senate Democratic Leader Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky, struck from the bill Sections 2 and 3 relating to ship movements.

Senator Walter F. George (D-GA), former chairman of the committee whose vote on the issue was considered doubtful in informal polls taken prior to the committee meeting, supported Senator Barkley’s proposal. Senator Wallace H. White (R-ME), the other doubtful member, voted against the motion.

The committee then voted to report the entire measure – including repeal of Section 6 which now bars the arming of merchant ships – to the Senate, where leaders expect to call it up for debate starting on Monday.

Informed of the Senate committee’s action, Speaker Sam Rayburn predicted the House would accept the amendment by a margin of about 60 votes.

As originally approved by the House, the measure only eliminated Section 6 and authorized the arming of merchant ships for the duration of the unlimited national emergency.

Senator White’s vote was the first he has cast against any important administration foreign policy measure.

A major Senate battle is expected. Opponents of a drastic revision of the act have denounced the move as the next-to-last step to a war declaration.

Three Democratic senators – Pepper, Josh Lee (OK) and Theodore F. Green (RI) – have introduced an amendment to the House bill to repeal Section 2, barring American merchantmen from belligerent ports, and Section 3, which prohibits their entry into combat zones established by presidential proclamation.

Three Republicans – Senators Styles Bridges (NH), Warren Austin (VT) and Chan Gurney (SD) – sponsored an amendment to repeal the entire act.

Administration leaders have surveyed Senate sentiment and count a minimum of 55, and a possible maximum of 60, floor votes in favor of lifting all shipping restrictions.

All opposition Senators insisted there would be no filibuster and some predicted that the fight would not last more than two weeks.